ReTURN The Favor: http://returnthefavornj.org/
Day one focused on shorelines and water-based ecosystems. We were scheduled to visit three locations. The first a farm protected by dams and dikes built all around it. The second a shoreline protected for the variety of species it is home to. The third a unique area, a mix between commerce and parkland centered around crabbing and shellfish.
The first stop of the day was a unique farm constructed on borrowed land from the river. The system of dikes, ditches, drains, and water gates reminded me of Venice, Italy. Venice is also combating a serious flood which rises with each year. On the farm it seems that the water is seeping in straight from the ground up rather than flowing in over the dikes. This suggests that soon the water control tactics in place will no longer sustain it and it will dissolve into marshland much like the surrounding farms before it. The destruction of the once farmland was bizarrely beautiful. The islands of varying heights which accepted flooding would have been excellent case studies for my studio project this semester. I may have to study the area more closely to better develop a planting scheme for my own design.
The second location, along the bayshore, is home to many species. We were fortunate to be toured by Meghan a volunteer with ReTURN The Favor. The mile walk to the shore was breathtaking. The grasses went on endlessly to the horizon. Only minute shifts in grade altered water content and so grass type. Even then one would have to look closely to see, and only at the trails edge be able to tell. In the vast continous marsh-scape the differences blended into a whole. The real drama appeared in the change from marshy grass to sandy dunes, on one side covered in grass and the other in sand and shells. To the sandy side only 6-10 feet, I would estimate, of shoreline existed, left to the mercy of the tide. As we walked this shoreline hoards of horeshoe crabs awaited us. These creatures, whose bloodline runs as old as the dinosaurs, were helpless to the tide. Many were stranded on their backs, legs wiggling in the air, awaiting either a tide to tip them right or a bird to devour them. Many of us hurried along the shoreline to flip these poor beings and point them back to the water. Of the many tidbits of information we learned the infographic, copyright to Rebecca Sibinga (a classmate), passed along to us was a helpful visual to understand the connectivity between species and the role a single place can play in the success of many.
After aiding an ancient friends, we traveled on to see a living water edge near a crabbing facility. This edge was not only planted as excellent muddy, grassy crab habitat but also had little bags of mussels/oysters placed along its side for cultivation. I enjoyed seeing the seafood industries tactics as it begins to mimic a traditional farm only in non traditional territory. As well the architectural elements integrated into this landscape, the unique docks, boats, launches, and bridges, were a joy to study.